Can a Change in Mindset Make You Happier at Work?
October 26, 2011 @ 11:04 PM | By Anusha Karnad
We spend the majority of our day (at least the part when we're awake) at work. If so much time is consumed by what we do in the office (or on the go for our jobs), you want to get some sense of happiness from it.
I found a great article by Martin Addison on TrainingZone that talks about what you can do to train yourself to be happy. He says that when our brains are primed to be positive, we perform better than when we’re feeling negative, or neutral, about something. We can imprint our brains with positive patterns just by creating a series of habits and mindset changes. As managers, is this something we can do to help our employees be happier?
Studies at Harvard University show that people who are happy and have meaning in their lives are not only more productive and more resilient at work, they take less sick days, perform better in leadership roles and receive higher pay. For anyone who isn't a naturally happy or positive person, is there hope?
Below are four things Adison says you can do for yourself to change your mindset (or for your team if you want to help improve their happiness or morale).
- Create the habit of gratitude - Write down three new things each day that your are grateful for. Make these things specific. If you spend two minutes a day doing this, your brain becomes slightly happier. Try doing it for 21 consecutive days. The more you think of things you’re grateful for, the less time you have for thinking about hassles and complaints.
- Exercise - Many people know that exercise releases positive endorphins and that when you exercise you’re more likely to eat healthier. If you could exercise daily for 21 days in a row, the benefits would cascade into other areas of your life.
- Reduce multitasking - Our brains like to do one thing at a time. When we attempt to multitask, we decrease our success rate on those tasks. To be happier and more productive at work, try to do one thing at a time.
- Perform conscious acts of kindness - Altruism is a great way to feel good about yourself. Thinking of how you can help someone else changes how you see the world—from how is the world affecting me to how can I affect the world? It may seem a small change but this is very important. Train yourself to find positive things that you can do for, or say to, other people.
Create a Ripple Effect
Adison points out that when we see someone smile, we smile too. Likewise when we see someone yawn. The same thing happens with anxiety, uncertainty or stress in the workplace. Because both positivity and negativity can spread so easily, the key to a happy workplace is training managers and employees to change their mindsets.
As managers, Adison says, we should be expressive, both verbally and non-verbally. This means giving praise or positive feedback, smiling and making eye contact with others. These activities will spread a little happiness and ultimately create a lasting competitive advantage.